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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

If It's Good Enough For Us, Then They Want Something Better

Ask your average Johnny Q. Liberal what he thinks about Social Security Reform, and you'll get something along the lines of "There is no crisis! It's a risky scheme cooked up by Wall Street! Bush Lied!" Of course they have no idea what they're talking about, but someone has to be feeding them this nonsense.

Truth is it's actually a lot of someones, a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy if you will, so in the interest of brevity let's look at just one: the National Education Association. One would hope the NEA would be focusing its time and money on, oh I don't know, making sure kids could read, but sticking their noses in the SS debate apparently ranks higher.

First and foremost among the NEA's grievances is opposition to Personal Accounts (or Privatization, because it sounds more devious). The website declares:
"Privatization carries great risk and will jeopardize the secure retirement of many Americans."
and
"The push to privatize Social Security is a risky scheme for America, but a sure bet for the financial services industry. Financial firms stand to gain billions -- probably hundreds of billions of dollars -- in fees from private accounts."
I found this surprising for two reasons. First of all, how is it that the same people who are against having their pay based on how well they teach Math suddenly qualified financial analysts? Secondly, if personal savings accounts are so risky, and such a windfall for the financial services industry, then why does the NEA offer its own Member Savings Plan? That makes so little sense I can't even come up with a snide remark.

Even the NEA can't be comfortable with that much hypocrisy, so there must be something else driving their resistance. A little more digging reveals the answer: what they're really afraid of is a reform package that includes mandatory enrollment in the system. A lot of people don't know it, but teacher in 15 states don't pay into the system at all, instead they enjoy the generous pension plans that are currently bankrupting those states (California anyone?). These plans regulary raid the state coffers to hand out extra benefits to retiring teachers, and why not, taxpayers end up picking up the bill. The NEA admits as much on it's website:
"Mandatory coverage would weaken existing state and local retirement plans that often offer benefits superior to Social Security."
By it's own admission, the NEA doesn't think much of the current system, but they're fighting tooth and nail to make sure that you stay in it. Thanks guys, but I think I'll pass.

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